I just got my R4 delivered yesterday morning and I’ve already got it all set up and running. I did manage to get a bunch of gaming hours on it, so I decided to write a review here for you guys.
I do have a kind reminder for everyone here, though. Before you purchase anything online, whether that be on Amazon or eBay or NewEgg, always read the product details thoroughly. This is totally unrelated to my Alienware Aurora review (in fact, I love it very much), but I just want to ask everyone to do that before purchasing anything big. It’ll give you a big idea as to what you should be expecting.
Read Alienware Aurora R4 Gaming Desktop product details here.
Alienware Aurora Review – R4
So on to the review! First of all, I want to say I genuinely adore this gaming rig. It’s one of the toughest, most fearsome computers out in the market. However, that’s not to say I won’t admit that it has a large (a very large) price tag. As with my statement earlier, please always read before you buy. I read and considered buying the machine for hours, pondering whether or not I really really wanted it. The answer was yes.
So let’s begin with some specs of what I got right out of the box:
Aurora R4 Specs
- 3.8Ghz Intel Core i7-3820 10MB Quad-Core processor, over-clockable up to 4.1Ghz
- 16GB of usable RAM with a speed of 1600Mhz
- 1TB Serial ATA 3 hard drive at 7200RPM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics card with 1.5GB of memory
- Liquid cooling
Those are amazing specifications. With a quad-core i7 processor (default speed of 3.8Ghz but can go upwards of 4.1Ghz), more than enough RAM, and a very modern graphics card with plenty of memory, this machine can breeze through every game out there. Speaking of playing games, let’s show the benchmark results, shall we?
Alienware Aurora Benchmarks
I played through a variety of different games with the Aurora R4. From graphical hogs like the Crysis series or The Witcher 2, to more destructive environments like Battlefield 3, I tested a lot.
While I did play a lot of games and the R4 really didn’t go through anything serious (lowest frames I’ve ever gotten was on high settings in Skyrim at 27 frames per second, though I can credit this little hiccup probably to glitches or bugs in the game), I can only write so much. So with that said, I’ll only write about two game experiences with this machine.
Alienware Aurora R4 Benchmark: Battlefield 3
This gaming rig obliterated the game’s graphical demands. With my BenQ gaming monitor (I also tested with my lower tier Asus VS247H-P and Dell S2340M monitors and everything was mostly the same), I tuned the resolution to full at 1920×1080. Next, I switched all the graphical settings to Ultra, the highest point that Battlefield 3 offers. I also set more demanding options like anti-aliasing to 4x MSAA and anisotropic filter at 16x. These are the absolute maximum the game can go at.
So first test was to see if the machine can actually run like this. I had some good expectations running through my head as I began the single-player campaign. After all that intro crap, I was able to look and move around.
It looked absolutely astonishing. The world was beautiful, the graphics crisp as a snowflake. My G700 gaming mouse was sifting through the world smoothly on my gaming mouse pad while the Aurora R4 did a wonderful job running BF3 at Ultra and my monitor did fantastic displaying the environment.
I had FRAPs set up before running the game, so after starting the campaign and getting a feel for the machine, I played for around 30 minutes. This gave the program enough time and data to round out the frames per second and give me an average: 47 FPS.
I hardly had any hiccups regarding this specific game, but that’s not to say I didn’t have some rare occasions. When explosions such as grenades going loose, I saw a small dip in my frames. It often dropped to 40, but never any lower. Though I didn’t actually feel any lag, FRAPs gave me the information in the top right corner of the screen.
Alienware Aurora R4 Benchmark: The Witcher 2
The Witcher 2 was a more demanding game than Battlefield 3, in my opinion, but it hardly mattered. Once again, I decided to see how much load I can put the computer through. After all, it did cost me $1999 (although it is available on Amazon for $1799). So I put the resolution to my monitor’s best: 1920x1080p. Again, all graphical settings were configured to maximum, just like BF3.
Started it up and played for 2 hours this time, mainly because 1) I was replaying TW2 and it’s just as fun as the first time and 2) I wanted to test out the cooling system that Alienware advertised on their Amazon page.
Again, results were phenomenal. They were great, really, but not as great as my first test. This was probably due to many reasons. First, I mentioned earlier that The Witcher 2 had way more demands than BF3 did, power-wise. The graphical details were so on-point and designed to be absolute eye candy. Second, I didn’t take any breaks or resting time from playing my previous game, Saints Row IV (which I won’t go into detail here). And third, I was downloading Payday 2 and Modern Warfare 3 for this new gaming PC.
So there were quite a lot of things going on while I was playing TW2. As expected, frames per second dipped to an average of around 34 frames per second after 120 full minutes of gameplay. That’s still not bad, considering I went all out with the settings.
Alienware Aurora R4 Review: Cooling System
The advertised cooling system was examined by me after my 2 hours of continuous Witcher 2 gameplay at Maximum settings (not including the hour or so I spent playing Saints Row IV, which came out yesterday). I hand-checked for any heat or hot spots on the tower.
I found that the left side of the tower was pretty warm, but the rest was just about room temperature and I even found some cold spots splattered around different areas of the tower. Examples of the cold spots are the very top side and near the rear of the tower.
After making sure everything was turned off and unplugged, I opened the machine. Feeling the metal areas of the inside gave me a clue that the cooling system worked fine.
Overall, it works well, but it’s not the main selling point of the R4.
Alienware Aurora R4 Review: Ease of Upgrades
In all entirety, the Aurora R4 is already a very powerful machine. In the case that you do need to upgrade, I kept the tower open to test this concept.
Right where the graphics card and RAM are situated is a metal barrier secured by regular screws. Within a minute or two, I got the screws off and was able to remove and replace the RAM. The graphics card is a bit tougher, so I do recommend you look up tutorials on opening up your machine (regardless of if you have an Aurora or not).
In all, upgrading is a breeze. It only takes a few minutes and all the screws are regular so you won’t need any special drivers. Always please make sure you read tutorials before doing anything to your computer, just for safety and as a precaution. If you have the option, have someone professional do it.
My rating for the Aurora R4 gaming desktop is: 4/5
With a very strong quad-core processor (and a recent model, at that) and very large amounts of graphic card RAM, you can play almost any game at maximum settings, with a few exceptions. I haven’t played every game out there in the market so I can’t tell you which ones you can’t play at max, but it’s fun to test, right? All the games I’ve played have been amazing to say the least. If you do end up purchasing the Aurora R4 or if you already own it, let me know in the comment section! I’d love to respond to you and try to answer any questions you have.
Read Alienware Aurora R4 product details on Amazon
Want another review? Check out our freshly-cooked up review on the Acer W500 here.
Read next: Top Gaming Desktops Under $1000
A strong starter pre-built rig